• 08Mar

    To the surprise (and chagrin) of many, United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS” or the “Service”) recently announced that it will temporarily suspend premium (expedited) processing for all H-1B non-immigrant visa petitions for a period of six months, effective April 3, 2017.   The premium processing service allows a petitioning employer to receive an adjudication of an H-1B petition (either a request for additional evidence or an approval) within 15 calendar days of filing of the Form I-907 and payment of an additional filing fee to USCIS of $1,225.

    Since Fiscal Year 2018 (FY 2018) cap-subject H-1B petitions cannot be filed before Monday, April 3, 2017, the Service’s suspension of premium processing will apply to all cap-subject petitions filed for the FY 2018 H-1B cap — this includes cases filed under the standard H-1B cap and the advanced degree cap exemption, more commonly known as the U.S. Master’s Cap.

    In addition to cap-subject petitions, the suspension of the premium processing service will also apply to H-1B petitions that are exempt from the annual quota, such as extensions of stay, requests to amend existing H-1B status and requests for changes of employer.

    USCIS has cited the reason for the suspension as an opportunity for the Service to catch up on the backlog of pending H-1B petitions that are nearing 240 days past expiration of the current period of authorized stay at which point continued employment authorization can be impacted.

    How does this impact H-1B Foreign National Employees?

    The premium processing suspension will have a significant adverse effect on H-1B workers wishing to engage in international travel. Since a foreign national needs a valid visa to return to the U.S. from a trip abroad, and such visa may not be obtained without an H-1B approval notice, the foreign national, in many cases, will either have to delay trips abroad – or remain abroad if a trip is necessary – until the H-1B petition is approved and a visa application may be made at a U.S. Consulate. Under current “normal” processing of H-1B petitions, such approval may take up to 11 months!

    If you have any questions in connection with any of the foregoing, please contact our firm’s Immigration Law Group at (973) 602-3455.

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    Posted by Meyner and Landis @ 6:33 pm

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